Sep. 19th, 2011

alexandral: (Rome - Vorenus - Soldier)
Having finished both of Neil Marshall’s films (The Descent and Centurion) close together, I noticed one shortcoming of his style, namely the lack of character development and character depth. What Neil is good at is visual world-building. Both films look good enough to be windows in the real world. But the characters? They don’t seem to be his main concern.

The Descent

This was the better of the two, a very strong horror film, scary enough to be something I would not feel comfortable watching in a movie theatre on my own. Fear of the dark is something I was very familiar with as the child. I have outgrown my fears and phobias so now I can sleep in complete dark and pick up spiders if necessary, but darkness (and spiders) is still not something I like. So when a group of outdoor-loving ladies in the film decided that crawling deep underground in a cavern is the best way to heal their friend’s psychological trauma after the death of her family, I thought “BAD IDEA. VERY BAD IDEA”. And of course, it was a bad idea, as the cavern managed to collapse on their heads, plus it happened to be infested with nightmarish creatures.

"The Descent" felt as a study into the nature of fear, and the characters , at least the two main characters, received much better attention than in "Centurion". The fact that I had to Google the pre-story and the names of the characters was probably not a good sign, but the unraveling of their humanity under the pressure of fear and claustrophobia was done superbly.


There are some very good things about Centurion: the world of Britain AD 117 looks so real you sometimes forget that this is a film and the action sequences are fantastic. This is most definitely the way I want "Game of Thrones" to look, so I can't wait for Neil Marshall’s episode in the season 2 (he has been commissioned to direct one of the episodes). If Neil Marshall’s episode is going to be the battle of Blackwater (as I have seen reported) , I would rejoice. There was a moment in "Centurion" involving Dark Forest and fireballs and it was one of the most visually stunning moments I have ever seen. I think Neil Marshall can do great things with fire.

But on the whole, "Centurion" was not a very good film. The characters were flat, and the plot disintegrated into something quite ridiculous at the end. Imagine Britain beyond the Adrian Wall , Roman times. Then imagine a beautiful young lady in what looks quite a modern dress living ON HER OWN in the middle of the forest and having no problems? I can not imagine this easily.

Besides, I have to say a couple of words about Michael Fassbender. Namely, I do not understand what the fuss is all about. I have seen him in few films recently and I can safely say that although he is not a bad actor, at the same time he has nothing to write home about.

I thought Dominic West and Olga Kurylenko did much better job with their roles. And I also think I am not a very suitable person to watch "Roman Britain" films, as I always want Picts to win, because this was their land and Romans were invaders, you know? But we always get the same thing: "terrible savage evil Picts against noble civilized Romans" (read: Big Empires are always morally superior).


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